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Ukraine, Crimea, and the right to rebel

Written By | Mar 7, 2014

WASHINGTON March 7, 2014 — People, citizens of this World, have a right to rebel against unjust leadership if the need arises. They have a right to demand change if their voices are not heard through legal means, and they have a duty to enact that change when their words are met with indifference and silence. They have a right to rebel, as we all have a right to rebel.

Vladimir Putin and the Russian Federation have invaded the territory of a sovereign nation, seemingly at the behest of what they consider the lawful leader, and the ethnic Russian people of Crimea. They cite the lawlessness and the instability which has resulted from the recent removal of the old government and its subsequent replacement with the new as reasons for his incursion, despite no evidence existing of such lawlessness.

Most telling, Vladimir Putin himself states that his actions are in response to the “unconstitutional coup” which resulted in the eviction of his friend, Viktor Yanukovych. Viktor Yanukovych rejected pleas from his people to move towards closer ties with Europe, he unleashed violence upon his own citizenry and then invited Russia to invade the sovereign territory of Ukraine in order to restore order and return him to power.

History is filled with such situations as these. An ousted dictator whose heavy handed politics drove him from his position of leadership calls on an ally to return him to his seat. He invites them in while claiming continued legitimacy despite his deposed status, and in turn the power that answers his call to arms sees their actions as legitimate. That invited power stays, carves out a piece of the kingdom for themselves, and forever tips the balance of power in the country, leading to centuries of conflict.

England was conquered this way, Ireland was conquered this way, some of the most egregious and brutal conquests in history were done in this way. There are numerous examples throughout history of powers invading a sovereign nation under the pretext of invitation or injustice, and numerous examples of nearly genocidal consequences relying upon the legitimacy of the false authority of a deposed or troubled ruler. Yanukovych knows that the Ukrainian military cannot fend off a Russian attack, He knows that the Ukrainian military is unprepared to counter this threat, but he willingly invites the fox into the hen-house and closes the door behind him.

Vladimir Putin claims that he is responding to the invitation of former leader of Ukraine Viktor Yanukovych to help stabilize the country after the former government was deposed. According to Putin, Russian involvement is necessary in order to address the “unconstitutional coup” which has occurred in Ukraine, and the flagrant disregard for the law by which these contemptuous rebels have seized power. He shakes his fist at their lawlessness, and he decries the fate of his dear friend and rightful leader of Ukraine. He has such reverence for the law of Ukraine that he violated international law to attempt to restore it.

But what of natural law? What of the iron law that all individuals born of this World enjoy? What of the right to rebel? With his invasion and subsequent occupation of Crimea within the sovereign territory of Ukraine, the President of Russia has sent a clear message to those would be revolutionaries of the World, the budding rebels, the insurrectionists; you are subordinate to the government, and will follow their law or lose your sovereignty.

The Crimean parliament now plans to hold a referendum on annexation to Russia. The vote will presumably be held while the Russian army controls the entirety of the Crimean peninsula. One imagines a greater threat to the liberty and sovereignty of a people more than an occupying force reminding voters who controls their country ahead of the vote to control their country. There is no more blatant violation of the democratic process than invading a territory, and forcing its citizens to annex themselves at the end of the barrel of the guns if the invaders.

The results of this referendum should be highly suspect. Crimeans will take to the polls to decide whether or not they want to annex themselves to Russia while Russian troops stand guard at the polling stations.

This is nothing short of tyranny.

Vladimir Putin has taken advantage of and exacerbated the apparent unrest and “lawlessness” in Ukraine post-coup in order to justify his invasion of the territory of a sovereign nation. He then installs a new parliamentary leader, and forces that leader to bring the issue of annexation to a vote. The vote will come up pro-Russian, whether the majority of Crimeans want it to or not, the vote will not result in their favor. If this should happen, the Crimean people will revolt, Ukraine will come to their aid, and there will be a war.

Make no mistake, the fate of the Ukrainian situation is nothing short of a fight for the legitimacy of the people to rebel against their government. It is a struggle between the threat of abject tyranny through brute force, and the natural right of every individual to live free. The people of Ukraine, and any of the people of the World, have the right to choose the form of government they wish to live under, rather than it be chosen for them. That is what is at stake here in Ukraine, that is what is at risk.

Remember that Russia is justifying their actions on the basis of an invitation to invade by ousted Ukrainian leader Viktor Yanukovych. Vladimir Putin further decries the coup in which his friend and ally Yanukobych was deposed, calling it “unconstitutional” as mentioned before. Russia and Yanukovych have made it clear that they will not tolerate mob rule, and governance by the will of the people. However Ukrainians disagree.

“If this government does not want to fulfill the will of the people, there will be no such government, there will be no such president…” Said Vitaly Klitschko, Opposition politician, former Ukrainian heavyweight boxer.

A government that is not representative of the people, a government that does not abide by the will of the people, and a government which imposes its will on the people invites destruction and chaos upon itself. The right of the people of any given nation to be governed fairly and with minimum intrusion is a natural right all humans are born into this World possessing. Our own nation was founded upon the principles of the duty to address, with force if necessary, the tyrannical nature of their government. What Russia is saying with their actions in Ukraine is that ultimately the government is above the law, the government exits to control the people, and the people are ultimately supported by the government.

The people of Ukraine have thrown off one man they call tyrant, only to be replaced by a greater one. Vladimir Putin decries the broken constitution of Ukraine while violating international law to apparently restore it. What is at stake in Ukraine, and in Crimea right now is the legitimacy, and the global recognition of the right of the people of a nation to rise up against their tyrannical government. What is at stake here, is nothing short of the right to rebel.

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Conor Higgins

Conor Higgins has a BA from Catholic University in DC and an MA form George Mason University in Fairfax, VA, both in history. When he not getting his hands dirty in 2nd Amendment and firearms news he is doing his best to take a crack at some drive-by political analysis. And every now and then he may or may not review a low end bourbon for the tax write off. Sit back, relax, and enjoy Back Porch Politics.